Big theme park project near Vinita already showing signs of financial problems

A humongous theme park development planned off Route 66 near Vinita, Oklahoma, already is showing signs of financial issues barely six months after a groundbreaking.

Mansion Entertainment, a company with ties to Branson, Missouri, announced last summer it would build the American Heartland theme park and RV park by 2026, which is Route 66’s centennial year, and draw 5 million visitors a year.

According to NonDoc and other area media outlets, a Canadian company hired to design the $2 billion project has filed a lien claiming it is owed nearly $5.5 million in unpaid bills.

FORREC, with headquarters in Toronto, Canada, filed a mechanic and materialsmen lien Friday in Craig County District Court claiming it has not received payment on design work and planning for the American Heartland Theme Park and Resort, as well as its associated Three Ponies RV Park and Campground. A materialman’s lien is basically a mechanics lien for material suppliers that provides them with a security interest in the real estate on which a project takes place.

Also named in the claim against Mansion Entertainment is OGB Holdings, which is identified in documents as owning the real property and premises of both the theme park and RV campground. OGB Holdings is either a subsidiary of or controlled by a subsidiary of Mansion Entertainment, according to court papers.

The 1,000-acre theme park is scheduled to open in 2026 and the RV campground has been proposed for completion next year. A groundbreaking for the 320-acre RV campground was held in November, but little work has been done since.

The filing comes as the Oklahoma Legislature was considering a $35 million request from the City of Vinita for water infrastructure upgrades to help the theme park project.

The project was greeted with some skepticism from the outset due to its scale and claims of its eventual visitor and job-creation numbers.

Also, Mansion Entertainment founder Gene Bicknell, 90, is the sole investor in the project. Bicknell has ties to nearby Picher, Oklahoma, and Pittsburg, Kansas.

(Artist’s rendering of the American Heartland theme park planned near Vinita, Oklahoma, via American Heartland’s Facebook page)

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